When Madam Liu heard they were going to the south side of the mountain, she immediately became worried, “Stop right there! In the future, none of you are allowed to go into the mountains!”
Ever since Yu Hai had his accident, Madam Liu had no longer regarded the mountain as an area people should go to! In the past, she had also heard the stories about vicious and ferocious creatures living deep in the mountains . However, after living with the Yu Family for more than ten years, Yu Hai had never encountered any of the vicious beasts when he was in the mountain . In fact, he rarely even saw a wild boar, let alone tigers, wolves or other dangerous animals .
But after Yu Hai was ravaged by the bear, Madam Liu felt that the mountain and its thickets were truly a dangerous area . She had almost lost her husband once, so it was natural that she had lingering fears, right? Thus, whenever someone said they wanted to go in the mountain, she had to voice her fear and disapproval!
When Xiaocao saw that her mother’s expression had changed significantly, she quickly tried to placate her, “Mother! I’m not going into the mountain!! I’m just going on the trail at the foot of the mountain to get to the south side . Although it’s a longer detour, it’s not going to be dangerous!”
“You’re really not going into the mountain?” After seeing Xiaocao nod her head furiously, Madam Liu finally let out a sigh and said, “As long as you’re not going into the mountain, it’s fine . Yesterday we caught a lot of fish in the net, so we have more than enough to make pickled fish this afternoon . Just let your father accompany you and make sure to bring more dry rations along . If you’re going around the foot of the mountains, I’m afraid you won’t get back before it’s dark!”
Yu Hang, who was lying on the bed recuperating, overheard their conversation . He struggled to sit up, but a sharp twinge shot through his chest and he grimaced in pain . When Xiaocao saw this, she hastily ran over to support him up . After propping him up using bedding behind his back to allow him to recline slightly, she said, “Older Brother, stop moving around . If there’s anything you need, call Mother and she can help you! The most important thing for you to do right now is to let your body heal . Stop thinking about random stuff!”
“Younger Sister, Doctor Sun told me that I’m recovering quickly . There’s really no difference if I get to eat snakehead fish or not! We’re too far from the southern part of the mountain, so don’t bother going there! Don’t we already have fish at home? Just use what we have to make a stew and it’ll still be very good!” Yu Hang didn’t want his family members to run ragged for his sake, so he did his best to persuade them from going .
“Older Brother, stop being such a worrywart! Here, drink some water and take a nap . Sleeping helps the body rest and recover a lot!” Whenever Yu Xiaocao made up her mind to do anything, she could not be persuaded otherwise . There was no way that Yu Hang’s attempt would sway her mind at all . She poured him a large cup of highly concentrated mystic-stone essence infused water and fed it to him .
The little divine stone had told her that a person wouldn’t get into trouble if they drank too much mystic-stone water . The only side effect was that it would make them sleep for a bit . See here, she even used its side effects as a make-shift sleeping pill!
When the little divine stone found out they were going to the southern side of the mountain, it immediately became excited . It had already finished exploring the West Mountain and it hadn’t had a chance to explore any farther areas .
With a ‘whoosh’, it leapt onto Xiaocao’s shoulders and enthusiastically rubbed its golden head against Xiaocao’s cheek, [Bring me along, I want to go there and play too!]
Yu Hang was perplexed at the sight of the tiny, golden kitten . Although its size made it seem like it had just recently been born, it’s agile and strong movements implied otherwise . “Ehhh? It’s quite rare to see a kitten that’s so pretty, where did you get it from?”
“Your younger sister found it in the thickets behind us . It’s quite clever, so we decided to raise and have it keep Tiny company!” Madam Liu was cleaning up the room as she watched Xiaocao and her husband’s antics with amusement .
Yu Xiaocao was in the middle of trying to convince her father to let her go to the southern side of the mountain on her own . There was a common saying, ‘full recovery from a serious injury takes a hundred days’ . Even though the little divine stone strengthened and healed her father’s leg every day, he had still suffered from a violent injury . To get to the south side of the mountain, they needed to walk a very long distance . She really wasn’t sure if her father could do it right now!
But how could Yu Hai, who loved his daughter to death, feel okay in letting his daughter, who was only eight to nine years old, go by herself?
Just as the two of them were mutually stuck in a deadlock, someone knocked on their main gate . Zhao Han stepped in with a hunting knife in one hand and his hunting bow and arrows slung over his back . “Good morning, Uncle Yu! Xiaocao, you didn’t go to the docks today to sell braised food, eh!”
When Yu Xiaocao saw the impressive-looking and decked out Zhao Han, her eyes lit up . She ran over to pull at his hand and spoke to her father, “Father, didn’t you say you don’t feel comfortable letting me go by myself? Then let Brother Han go with me then! Doctor Sun had said that you need to let your leg heal for a little longer, ah!”
Zhao Han grinned when he heard Xiaocao explain what was going on, “What a coincidence! The prefectural magistrate’s son is getting married, and he wanted to reserve a pair of wild geese . At the southern side of the mountain is a pond filled with reeds . There should be some wild geese migrating from the north resting there . Since Xiaocao also needs to go to the southern side of the mountain, it works perfectly since it’s on the way . Uncle Yu, I’ll accompany Xiaocao, so don’t worry!”
With the Zhao Han’s help, Xiaocao was finally able to convince her father to stay at home after another bout of wheedling . Before they left, Yu Hai warned them continuously to be cautious . In the end, Madam Liu had to intervene, “Husband, if Xiaocao doesn’t leave now because of you, she won’t be able to come home today!” Only then did Yu Hai reluctantly let his daughter leave .
After she had traveled out of sight from her father, Xiaocao let out a long sigh . When she saw the amusement glimmering in Zhao Han’s eyes, she said with a bit of embarrassment, “Having an overprotective father is sometimes quite inconvenient!”
Zhao Han chuckled, “Uncle Yu is just concerned about you . I never would have expected that a big, hulking man like Uncle Yu would be so attentive and worried about his children!”
Yu Xiaocao merely shrugged and didn’t say anything more . She followed Zhao Han from behind as they traveled . They arrived at the foot of the West Mountain and there were a bunch of burial mounds messily interspersed in the area . Weeds grew in abundance and grave markers dotted the entire landscape . From time to time, the sounds of feral dogs yelping and crying could be heard .
Yu Xiaocao shortened her stride and didn’t dare to glance sideways . She was afraid she might see something inauspicious . Zhao Han had looked back at her without paying much attention to his surroundings and noticed the tight expression on her face . He frowned, thinking that there might be something incredibly dangerous around them, and then realized that Xiaocao was only an eight to nine year old little girl . Normally, her actions and words were too similar to an adult’s, so it was very easy for other people to forget her actual age .
Zhao Han slowed down a few steps to allow Xiaocao to catch up until they were walking side-by-side . The top of Xiaocao’s head didn’t even reach his armpits, which once again served as a reminder to him that the little girl next to him was young and inexperienced .
“Don’t be scared . Although the area we’re walking through is somewhat isolated and desolate, there won’t be anything like an undead monster appearing in the wilderness, if that’s what you’re worried about . If you’re scared, you can hold onto the corner of my jacket!” Zhao Han had been taught from childhood that a distance between sexes should be kept at age seven and older, so he didn’t feel comfortable holding Xiaocao’s hand . Thus, he could only suggest this solution .
Xiaocao inwardly rolled her eyes, ‘Hold onto the corner of your jacket? Do you think I’m a three year old child, ah?! Let me set things straight, inside, I’m almost thirty years old, an adult . Do you really think I’m worse than you, a twelve to thirteen year old preteen?’ In order to prove that she wasn’t afraid, she deliberately lengthened her strides and took large steps .
Zhao Han absentmindedly kept up with her and stayed alert to their surroundings in order to keep the tiny girl next to him shielded underneath his wings .
Luckily, the messy graveyard didn’t take up a large area, so the two of them managed to quickly go past it and get to the foot of the mountains .
“How about we walk on the large road at the foot of the mountains?” If they traversed across this mountain range, which wasn’t considered very tall, they would be able to get to their destination very quickly . On the other hand, if they traveled on the road winding around the foot of the mountain ranges, it would take them at least twice as long . Had Zhao Han been traveling on his own, he definitely would have picked going over the mountain range . However, when he thought about Xiaocao’s age and body constitution, he hesitated .
Yu Xiaocao had long thrown her mother’s warnings out of her head . She raised her head to look at the mountain range in front of her and thought it wasn’t very high . In addition, she could clearly see the mountain trail squiggling through the peaks, which showed that this road was often used by people . She raised her voice and announced grandly, “Let’s go! Up the mountains!!”
After she said that, she took the lead and dived into the forest thicket . Zhao Han helplessly followed behind her as he tightly held onto the hunting knife in his hand .
Yu Xiaocao walked as she carefully observed the environment on both sides of the trail . From time to time, she would scuttle into the underbrush and use the rope she brought to set some traps in areas where small animals liked to run . Zhao suddenly interjected after seeing the rope traps in Xiaocao’s hands, “Every time I set traps with you, the odds of success increase by a lot, why is this so?”
In the past, when he set traps on his own, he would consider it to be a good day when three out of the ten traps caught prey . However, whenever he set traps with Xiaocao, the odds would increase to around five to six successes per trap . Sometimes, it was even higher! It really made him feel puzzled!
Xiaocao’s hands paused for a brief moment before she regained her composure . After all, she had lived for almost thirty years in her past life and knew how to bluff convincingly . She glanced at Zhao Han as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, and cheerfully said, “Well that’s obvious, it’s because my moral character is good, ah!!”
Did having a good moral character . . . . really have anything to do with setting traps? Zhao Han started to think that the question he asked was a bit childish . Maybe it was really all just a coincidence!
After she used up all of the rope traps she brought from home, the road they walked on gradually became more precipitous . In some areas, she even had to use both her hands and feet to climb over . Zhao Han was in the front opening the way . From time to time, he would hold his scabbard and let Xiaocao drag on it as she climbed . This way she could save some energy .
The little divine stone had transformed into its golden kitten from and took the lead, running ahead . Occasionally, it would dart into some dense undergrowth or climb onto some branches to swing on or even leap over a boulder . . . suddenly, it acted as if someone had pressed down on it to keep it still . Its bright eyes stared at a nearby cliff and its nose lightly twitched . Unaware, its tail started to swish back and forth .
“What’s wrong, Little Glutinous Dumpling? Did you find something?” Xiaocao had spent more than a half year in constant contact with the little divine stone, and, while she didn’t know its every movement like the back of her own hand, she at least had an inkling on how to interpret its body language . After noticing the look of concentration on its face, she knew that there was something to be found .
[Spiritual energy, really dense spiritual energy! Something is giving off a stronger spiritual energy than the lingzhi mushroom or ginseng at Tongren Medicine Hall!! There must be a true treasure in front of us!!] The golden kitten’s ears quivered, and it scrambled toward the area with the cliff .
“Little Glutinous Dumpling, wait for me!!” Xiaocao had a decent amount of confidence in the little divine stone’s sensing abilities . Something that could make it this excited and run so quickly was definitely out of the ordinary . Yu Xiaocao pushed aside the weeds that had reached half a person’s height and struggled to follow from behind .
“Be careful!!” Zhao Han swiftly threw out his hand and grabbed Xiaocao’s arm just in time to save her from falling into a deep ditch that was hidden in the underbrush . He dragged her back up and said, “Make sure to look where you’re going! Be careful not to fall down!”
“Thank you, Brother Han! Little Glutinous Dumpling ran over there and I need to find it and bring it back!!” After receiving a fright, she took Zhao Han’s help to surmount that deep ditch and cautiously traversed through the thick weeds .
Zhao Han was in the front, opening up a path . He kept finding ditches left and right, and made sure to warn her . At last, he finally said out of worry, “How about you wait here and I go catch the cat for you? Is that okay?”
Yu Xiaocao slightly frowned and inwardly thought, ‘Do you think the little divine stone is a real cat that you can catch just because you want to, ah?’
“Little Glutinous Dumpling is afraid of strangers, so I’m afraid if it sees you, it’ll run away even farther! I can see up ahead that Little Glutinous Dumpling has stopped, so let me look instead!” In front of the cliff, she could see the golden kitten glittering in the sunlight under a bit of lush green undergrowth . From afar, the scene resembled a golden diamond surrounded by precious jade .
It took a bit of time for the two people to pass through the thick weeds . When they got to the side of the cliff, they noticed that the little kitten was using its claws to dig at some type of vegetation buried in the ground . It kind of looked like a bustling little groundhog .